The Pearls of Friendship–Dunwoody Village

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Stella and Dr. Tom Gabuzda have been residents of Dunwoody Village, a continuing care retirement community in Newtown Square, Pa., since 2011. They were delighted when they discovered that Marge and Dr. Tom Devlin would become their next-door neighbors.

The couples met when the Devlins came to take a tour of Dunwoody in January 2012. In a short time, they have forged the kind of friendship that seems to have developed over decades. Watching them interact in the Devlin’s beautifully decorated country house on the expansive campus is remarkably like spending time with old friends.

While the two men discussed their shared interests and experiences, Stella and Marge began talking about books. “I told her I was interested in volunteering in the library,” said Marge. Stella, who is co-chairman of the Dunwoody Library, recalled filing that information away. “And when Marge moved in, I reached out to her right away,” Stella said.

Tom Gabuzda was a hematologist and an oncologist for over 45 years at Thomas Jefferson and Lankenau Hospitals; Stella was head librarian at the Ludington Library in Bryn Mawr. Tom was a board member at Dunwoody before he and Stella became residents.

Tom Devlin received a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, and then conducted biochemical research at the Merck Institute in New Jersey.  After ten years, he joined the biochemistry faculty of Hahnemann University College of Medicine (now Drexel University College of Medicine). Marge was a high school math teacher and an active volunteer for various non-profit organizations.

“I had been to Dunwoody several times before I moved in, to deliver flowers on behalf of my church,” said Tom Devlin. “I noticed how open and friendly people were. Everyone says hello in the hallways and in the dining rooms.”

“One of the pleasures of living here is that the residents are such an interesting lot,” Stella observed. “Everybody has a story, and many of them are well-traveled and well-read. You can sit down for dinner with just about anybody and have a good conversation.”

The Gabuzdas and the Devlins have quickly forged a strong friendship.

The Gabuzdas and the Devlins have quickly forged a strong friendship.

Stella has made a point to introduce the Devlins to other residents over dinner. “It helps to accelerate the process of feeling settled here,” she said. Tom and Stella both volunteer as part of the Dunwoody Hospitality Committee.

“Even before we moved in, the Gabuzdas invited us to have dinner with them a few times, so we could take part in one of the evening programs,” Marge recalled. Stella added, “Now that they’re here, about once a week I invite them to join us along with another couple or resident whose company I think they would enjoy.”

Tom Devlin noted how everyone makes an effort to learn people’s first names. “For the first week of the month, we ask residents to wear name tags, to help people learn the new names,” he said. “When you talk with new residents, you often find out within a few minutes that you had a connection 50 years ago—or even multiple connections.”

“At Dunwoody Village, residents get to have their cake and eat it too,” Stella concluded. “They’re able to maintain their old relationships and make new ones as well.”

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